The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has finalized its defense of the appeal brought by Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate.
During the court session on Monday, the INEC team led by Abubakar Mahmoud called the lone witness, Lawrence Bayode, an assistant director in the Commission’s Information Technology (IT) department.
While being led in evidence, Bayode accepted his witness statement and was cross-examined by other respondents and the petitioners’ counsel.
In response to Wole Olanipekun, counsel to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima, the witness stated that photographs generated on Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines required data services in order to be posted to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IREV).
According to him, whether or not photographic copies of BVAS polling unit results are delivered manually or electronically, the integrity of the election was not jeopardized, and thus the presidential election was “free, fair, and substantially in compliance with the electoral act.”
Furthermore, on cross-examination by All Progressives Congress lawyer Lateef Fagbemi, he stated that the glitch on the IREV portal on election day had no effect on the actual scores of the candidates because their results stayed the same.
Fagbemi then produced a newspaper piece in which INEC issued a pre-election notice claiming that electronic results compilation was not practicable.
Despite the petitioners’ counsel’s objections, the newspaper was presented and allowed into evidence.
Chris Uche, Abubakar’s counsel, presented the recently released report by the European Union (EU) election observation team in Nigeria during further cross-examination.
Remember that the EU panel indicated in the report that the elections showed long-standing systemic flaws that needed to be addressed.
The EU chastised INEC for the operational difficulties and faults encountered with the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) and the result viewing webpage, claiming that the inconsistencies seriously harmed public trust in the electoral organization.
Tinubu’s victory in the February 25 presidential election is being challenged by Atiku and the PDP.
Nonetheless, after calling 27 witnesses, the petitioners ended their case on June 23.